Why is it important: Nvidia announced that DLSS 3 would be equipped with the ability to generate full frames when announcing the RTX 4000 series and its new software stack. What it didn’t say is that frame generation could be decoupled from DLSS and even works with competitive upscalers.
According to their article, the team at Igor’s Lab was having fun with Spider-Man Remastered when they noticed that the game’s settings gave them some weird options: enable frame generation without enabling DLSS, and pair frame generation with AMD FSR and Intel XeSS.
Igor’s Lab went straight to Nvidia to ask if those options were supposed to be there. Nvidia confirmed they were and explained that frame generation works separately from upscaling, but added that DLSS 3 has been optimized to work with it. Igor’s Lab found an RTX 4090 and started testing to see what frame generation was capable of without DLSS 3.
Paired with an Intel i9-12900K and running Spider-Man Remastered with the maximum visual quality preset at 4K, the RTX 4090 hit a sensible 125 fps. With DLSS, FSR, or XeSS enabled with their performance settings, the game was bottlenecked by the CPU at around 135 fps.
And then, with frame generation enabled but without any scaling, the framerate jumped to 168 fps. And it again jumped to around 220 fps with DLSS and FSR enabled (again, performance settings). XeSS lagged a bit, managing only 204 frames per second when working in tandem with frame generation.
Igor’s Lab also tested the impact of frame generation with other DLSS, FSR and XeSS quality settings and the story remained the same. Frame generation helped all three achieve much higher frame rates, but DLSS and FSR far outperformed XeSS, as they usually do on non-Intel hardware.
XeSS also struggled to match the visual quality of DLSS and FSR. In my opinion, the difference between DLSS and FSR was mostly a matter of taste. I preferred the slightly sharper look of FSR, but DLSS seemed to have less artifacts. XeSS was blurrier and had trouble handling anti-aliasing.
Igor’s Lab has great tools to help you inspect the difference between images generated with each of the three upconverters. But, again, the story here is pretty familiar: all three tools work the same way they usually do, and treat fake frames like engine-generated ones, so anything you’re already a fan of will probably your favorite here too.
It’s great that Nvidia doesn’t lock frame generation to DLSS 3 and gives consumers a choice of form, even though the feature is limited to the RTX 4000 series. It’s suspected that FSR 3 will have frame generation that works from way similar to Nvidia’s implementation and has much wider compatibility. It will be interesting to see if this also works with DLSS and XeSS and which tool produces the best results when FSR 3 arrives next year.
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